Text messaging is a trusted source of communication for Americans. That is not a coincidence.
Historically, text messaging has a spam rate of 2.8% while other messaging services such as email have spam rates as high as 53%. The rate of spam on SMS is so low for a reason—carriers are able to filter out spam messages. But that is only because the regulatory definitions currently in place allow providers to do that.
On this month’s FCC Open Meeting is an item on robotexts, ruling on a petition from Twilio, a mass texting service. The draft item on text messages would formally classify messaging as an information service, not a telecommunications service, reaffirming the regulatory definition of mobile messaging. It might seem mundane but maintaining the regulatory definition of SMS would ensure that consumers do not see an influx in text messaging spam.
The FCC should reaffirm the regulatory definition of mobile messaging so the consumer experience remains relatively spam-free. Today, there are a lot of different messaging services like traditional SMS, iMessage, Whatsapp and many more. Changing the regulatory definitions would mean that iMessage and SMS, for example, would receive different regulations, complicating the user experience. There shouldn’t be a different regulatory process between blue and green messages and iPhone and Android users.
Besides tainting the user experience, emergency operators also worry that changing the regulatory definition of SMS would reduce trust in text messaging. In comments submitted to the Commission on the Twilio petition, Nena, the 9-1-1 Association argued that changing the regulatory definition for messaging services could have adverse effects on Text to 9-1-1 emergency communications. Spam could “drive consumers away from the SMS platform” which is the only platform that offers the Text-to-9-1-1 service.
Many states agree that changing the regulatory definition would have adverse effects. State Attorneys General from South Carolina, North Carolina, Arizona, and 19 other states jointly cautioned against changing the regulatory definition of SMS to protect against spam and phishing messages.
Changing the regulatory definition of SMS would effectively open the floodgates to spam messages from around the world, severely altering the near-spam free user experience. The FCC should reaffirm the regulatory definition of SMS as an information service, so SMS remains a trusted service for Americans.
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